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NCS Reuben Awards 2008

Within the pile of studio mail waiting for me upon my return was the official ballot for the National Cartoonists Society‘s Reuben award for “Cartoonist of the Year“. This award is the ultimate recognition for any cartoonist. Here’s what the NCS website has to say about the significance and history of the award:

THE OUTSTANDING CARTOONIST OF THE YEAR is chosen by a secret ballot of the members of the National Cartoonists Society. The REUBEN AWARD is the highest honor that the profession bestows. As with all the NCS awards, the winner need not be a member of the Society.

The award was previously called the Billy DeBeck Memorial Award, and the recipient received an engraved silver cigarette box. The Reuben was introduced in 1954 and is named after longtime Honorary President Rube Goldberg. The statue is based on one of Goldberg’s irreverent pieces of sculpture. The eight winners who had received the “Barney,” as the Billy DeBeck Award was dubbed, subsequently received Reuben statuettes and are termed Reuben winners in the Society’s annals.

A number of weeks ago NCS members received a blank ballot with five spaces for the names of cartoonists they wised to nominate for the 2008 Reuben. From these “primary” ballots the final nominees are decided and then the official ballot with these names on them is sent out. Each NCS member selects one name as their choice for “Cartoonist of the Year”. This year’s worthy nominees are:

Dave Coverly (Speed Bump)
Al Jaffee (MAD Magazine)
Dan Piraro (Bizarro)

I was very happy to see Al Jaffee’s name on the ballot. This award is SUPPOSED to go to the cartoonist whose work of the previous year was the most outstanding, but occasionally long overlooked cartoonists find their way on the ballot. Jack Davis and Will Eisner both won since I’ve been a member… likely more in recognition for their careers than their work of the last 12 months. There are some compelling arguments for why that might not be correct, but awards like these have many different facets and motivations. The Oscars are the same way. Considering Al is still doing monthly work for MAD and other clients, and his stuff is as brilliant as ever, I think his inclusion is very appropriate.

All three nominees are deserving of the award, and this is never an easy choice. Good luck to all. The winner joins the following lofty list of Reuben Award recipients:

1946- MILTON CANIFF
1947- AL CAPP
1948- CHIC YOUNG
1949- ALEX RAYMOND
1950- ROY CRANE
1951- WALT KELLY
1952- HANK KETCHAM
1953- MORT WALKER
1954- WILLARD MULLIN
1955- CHARLES M. SCHULZ
1956- HERBERT BLOCK
1957- HAL FOSTER
1958- FRANK KING
1959- CHESTER GOULD
1960- RONALD SEARLE
1961- BILL MAULDIN
1962- DIK BROWNE
1963- FRED LASSWELL
1964- CHARLES M. SCHULZ
1965- LEONARD STARR
1966- OTTO SOGLOW
1967- RUBE GOLDBERG
1968- JOHNNY HART, PAT OLIPHANT (tied)
1969- WALTER BERNDT
1970- ALFRED ANDRIOLA
1971- MILTON CANIFF
1972- PAT OLIPHANT
1973- DIK BROWNE
1974- DICK MOORES
1975- BOB DUNN
1976- ERNIE BUSHMILLER
1977- CHESTER GOULD
1978- JEFF MacNELLY
1979- JEFF MacNELLY
1980- CHARLES SAXON
1981- MELL LAZARUS
1982- BIL KEANE
1983- ARNOLD ROTH
1984- BRANT PARKER
1985- LYNN JOHNSTON
1986- BILL WATTERSON
1987- MORT DRUCKER
1988- BILL WATTERSON
1989- JIM DAVIS
1990- GARY LARSON
1991- MIKE PETERS
1992- CATHY GUISEWITE
1993- JIM BORGMAN
1994- GARY LARSON
1995- GARRY TRUDEAU
1996- SERGIO ARAGONÉS
1997- SCOTT ADAMS
1998- WILL EISNER
1999- PATRICK McDONNELL
2000- JACK DAVIS
2001- JERRY SCOTT
2002- MATT GROENING
2003- GREG EVANS
2004- PAT BRADY
2005- MIKE LUCKOVICH
2006- BILL AMEND

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